German press hails a page turned by D-Day ceremony

7th June 2004, Comments 0 comments

BERLIN, June 7 (AFP) - The German press Monday unanimously highlighted the historic importance of Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder joining the 60th anniversary D-Day commemorations in France over the weekend.

BERLIN, June 7 (AFP) - The German press Monday unanimously highlighted the historic importance of Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder joining the 60th anniversary D-Day commemorations in France over the weekend.

The conservative Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) said the first appearance of a postwar German chancellor at the beaches of Normandy had the iconic quality of the images of former chancellor Willy Brandt falling to his knees at the Warsaw Ghetto and Helmut Kohl and French President Francois Mitterand standing hand-in-hand at the battlefields of Verdun.

In declaring the "final end" of the postwar period, Schroeder made a major declaration about Germany's - and Europe's - relationship to its past. The FAZ noted the statement was remarkable in that no one flinched at it.

"Until now in Germany, the idea prevailed that history was never over," it said in a front-page editorial.

By saying that the Allied landing at D-Day was also a victory for Germany, Schroeder meant that "a 21st century German patriot must be grateful to the Allies that they liberated Germany from the Nazis," the centre-left Berlin daily Tagesspiegel said.

But "the 60th anniversary also sent a message of European and transatlantic reconciliation" after the divisions prompted by the war in Iraq.

"In remembering the past, the West has discovered itself again," it said.

But the conservative broadsheet Die Welt, which noted that Schroeder had put France at the heart of his speech, complained "there was something important missing - the word 'America'. Was it the French who liberated Europe from Hitler?

"Jacques Chirac, embodying the statesman, found adequate words for the United States. Not the post-postwar chancellor," it said.

The centre-left Berliner Zeitung said that such ceremonies are often full of symbols of little use in daily life.

However, "the Franco-German reconciliation, of which there was much talk Sunday, is more than a word. It is a long and complex path and a historic accomplishment of two peoples".

© AFP

Subject: French news

 

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